Friday, March 24, 2017

Historical Fiction Hints

An American woman is captured by Barbary pirates and sold to the Visier of Morocco, escaped to Gibraltar and returned to Florida. She had a grandson, David Levy Yulee, who became Florida’s first Senator. This sounds like complete fiction, doesn’t it?

But it's not. The Shadow of the Rock by Author Eileen Haavik McIntire is based on a real women’s life. Speaking recently about historical research, she used examples of what she did for this historical fiction.

Eileen learned early that her main character was Jewish, which led to other areas of research.  She verified that her character was a real person and about the influence this woman’s family had on Florida history.

Research is a creative process that requires imagination and persistence. You can start with libraries and Google, check bibliographies and indexes, maps and books about your subject or area.

Local historians and cemeteries are helpful and interviews with people in the area of interest. Also seek out related subjects that might her you develop scenes and atmosphere such as costume design books, memoirs, etc.

Eileen found old books from around the time her character lived and discovered helpful information in them about the culture, dress, and what was happening in the world at this time.

Travel if possible, she recommended. Her research took her to Gibraltar, Morocco, St. Thomas, Florida and other areas. She rode a camel in the Sahara. She toured the frigate Constellation in the Baltimore Harbor. Places she visited often became scenes in her books.

She recorded a lot of detail and background information she was able to use in her story and in another book, In Rembrandt's Shadow.

Like Eileen you may amass a huge amount of information for a book. But remember not to use it all. You don’t want an information dump. Writing is a matter of choices. The most important thing is to write a good story that people will want to read.

Eileen also writes a mystery series, The 90s Club. A few years ago, I enjoyed reading The 90s Club and the Hidden Staircase. Now I look forward to more of Nancy Dickerson and her friends in the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village.

Eileen McIntire currently is President of Maryland Writers’ Association. She also is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

If you want more information about Eileen and her books, check out Also, if you are interested in writing or reading more books by area writers information can be found at

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Art in black and gold

You still have an opportunity to visit the Scott Center at Carroll Community College and study the Stay Gold, Portraiture by Tyler Farinholt.
Stay Gold explores themes of masculinity, anxiety, isolation and identity. This body of work focuses on the faces of young black males, Tyler said. Gold add a richness to the portraits and a feel of optimism for the future.
Tyler Farinholt
This was an appropriate exhibit for Black History Month. As we think of leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil rights marches.
I also attended several events Tyler curated during the past several years. One especially impressed me. It was a Jeffrey Kent exhibit, held at the Frederick Douglass Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum. You can read what I wrote about that exhibit in See or Hear, Write or Preach at, posted on 3/7/2013. His exhibit focused more on the past, such as slavery, black culture and equal rights.
Both visual artists used their creative instincts to communicate - to share experiences, thoughts and dreams with others. Tyler and Jeffrey Kent both communicate some of the black experience through their art. Writers do the same with words. Both arts require creativity, looking at the world the way it was, is and could be. Both try to stir emotions and create discussion.
Tyler is an artist, educator and curator based in Baltimore. Educated at MICA, he teaches art to disadvantaged youth in East Baltimore as a member of MICA’s Office of Community Engagement.

He is a graduate of Westminster High School. Previously, he worked with the education department at the Walters Art Museum He has curated exhibitions with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and Area 405.
Betty Houck and Lona Queen viewed
Tyler's art at the opening reception.

Tyler also has been featured in exhibitions at Hillyer Art Space, the Columbia Art Center, CCBC and Artspace Herndon. He was a recipient of the 2016 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Visual Arts.

You can see more of his work at  The Carroll County Times ran a front page story on  February 18, about Tyler’s exhibit in the Gallery in the Scott Center and that of Jinie Park’s mixed-media exhibit, “Observations in Paint” in the college’s Babylon Great Hall. Parks also studied at MICA, but prefers working with fabric and abstract creations.
Jessi Hardesty, curation of collections and exhibits at the college was thrilled at the number of people who attended the opening reception for the artists. She told me she had first seen Tyler’s business card in a coffee shop. She was excited about the power in his portraits.
When planning the exhibit, she thought of the difference in the approaches of the two MICA educated artists and decided their different styles would be a good match. I agree. The exhibits are different but both seem to ask you to study them, to think about what you see and to just enjoy the artistry.
The exhibits at Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road, Westminster, Maryland are free. The exhibits will run through March 24. You can check the college website, for gallery hours.